Boat InstrumentsDragonsinger is equipped with a number of modern sailing instruments. These instruments provide the navigator with a large amount of real-time data about the boat, the local conditions, and the boat's location. The navigator must turn this data into information that can be used to safely navigate the boat.
The majority of instruments are from Raytheon Marine. By sticking with one manufacturer it is more likely that you can interface several different instruments together. Combining information from diverse sources provides the navigator with more data to make informed decisions.
Traditional InstrumentsFor the last twenty years, most sailboats have been equipped with instruments to measure apparent wind speed and angle, knot speed in the water, and depth. Apparent wind affects the sails, angle of heel, and how you steer the boat relative to the wind. Knot speed is used to estimate how far the boat has traveled.
A depth sounder is one of the most critical aids a navigator has. Modern charts provide great detail on the depth of the water. Using the chart and the depth sounder provides the navigator with an accurate way to track the position of the boat.
All of these instruments require specialized measuring devices. For apparent wind, measuring equipment is mounted on the top of the mast. This provides more accurate measurements that not impacted by air moving over the sails. The log requires an underwater fitting that measures the flow of water next to the hull. And the depth sounder requires an underwater transducer that sends sound waves to the bottom of the ocean and measures the strength of their return.
Modern InstrumentsThe invention of the Global Positioning System (GPS) has changed the way we navigate. GPS satellites were launched by the US military to provide satellite signals that could be used to track any location in the world (in three dimensions). A portion of this system has been made available for non-military use. A GPS can report your location in Latitude and Longitude within a few meters of accuracy.
After GPS came electronic chart plotters. These devices use specialized digitized charts that are displayed on a LCD screen in the cockpit or at the navigation station of a boat. Modern instruments combine GPS information with a chart plotter to provide real-time information about where you are located. Think of it as a map that has a moving icon that shows exactly where on the map you are right now.
Chart plotters and GPS and then be combined with radar to provide the navigator with one integrated view of his or her environment. The radar image can be superimposed on the chart and this can be combined with GPS information on location, speed, and direction to provide the navigator with accurate and useable information.